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long-tailed tit

The First Whiff of Garlic

Wednesday, 14th February 2001, West Yorkshire

long-tailed tits IN SHADED PLACES the frost hasn't given all day but as I walk down into the valley of Smithy Brook, near Thornhill, the late afternoon sun has some warmth in it.

wild garlic Where the stream has overflowed and left bare silty earth on its banks, the leaves of Wild Garlic are now starting to appear. I can't resist striding over the stream's debris to rub a leaf for a first whiff of the pungent smell that I associate with spring and the greening of the woodlands.

hazel catkins I brush against the greenish catkins of a Hazel in the hedgerow and wisps of yellow pollen puff out.

A pinkish gold sun is going down over the brow of the hill as I cross the beck and start to climb dark expanse of ploughland. Sticky earth soon doubles the weight of my boots. A little bit of extra exercise for me after a day indoors but, in the quiet of the sunset I can't help thinking of the people who walked this field before me and, in the days before tractors, had to not just walk it but work in it too.

furrows But, to judge by the large number of fragments of sandstone that the plough has dragged up, perhaps this field was kept as pasture. Amongst the stones are traces of the people who lived in this parish of a century or more ago. There's blue and white crockery and fragments from the rims of glazed earthenware containers. I pick up a small white tube the size of a piece of macaroni. It has a wire-thin hole running through it . . . part of the stem of a clay pipe.

That's a coincidence; when I checked today's link to last year's diary, I found that clay pipes came into my last entry for Valentine's Day. next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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